How useful are physical examination manoeuvres for an adult patient with suspected meningitis?


The Kernig, Brudzinski and Jolt Accentuation signs have limited utility in assessing patients with acute meningitis. The poor sensitivities mean that meningitis cannot be ruled out if the signs are not present (remember sn[out]). The relatively high specificities mean that your suspicion might increase if the signs are present (remember sp[in]) but unfortunately the associated low positive likelihood ratios show that no exam manoeuvre can reliably rule in the diagnosis. All three must be used with caution and in conjunction with other supporting laboratory and historical data.




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